Warriors Find Toughness In Game Four
Can we all just celebrate the fact that we had a good game in the NBA Finals? Three cheers for not having to watch a fourth straight blowout.
The Warriors took the 3-1 series advantage in the NBA Finals with Friday's 108-97 win over the Cavs in Cleveland, which all but gives the trophy to Golden State for the second straight year. It's not impossible to win three straight games, but history and statistics say the Cavs sealed their fate by letting the Warriors take Game Four.
Fans at Oracle Arena cheered at the jumbotron as their team moved one step closer to another NBA Championship, while the Cavs fans watched LeBron walk off the court for possibly the last time this season.
The league MVP, Steph Curry, led all scorers with 38 points (11-25 FG, 7-13 3-pt, 9-10 FT), and his seven makes from beyond the arc were part of a historical night for the Warriors from three point land.
Golden State set a new NBA Finals record with 17 made three pointers, but Curry said it's almost the norm for teams to jack up shots from deep now. He can shrug off the record, but he can't ignore a tough test in somebody else's house.
What was the difference? Curry thought it started on defense.
"A lot less breakdowns than we had last game," Curry said, adding that they set the tone early. "Our starters came in and controlled the tempo in the first quarter. It wasn't perfect or great basketball by any means, but on the road we gave ourselves a chance with a comfortable margin that we could work on the rest of the game."
Curry led the way, and his Splash Brother, Klay Thompson (25 pts, 7-14 FG, 4-9 3-pt), broke the 20-point mark for the first time in the NBA Finals. Draymond Green was a successful agitator all night with three blocks and two steals on defense, and he was one point away from a double-double (9 points, 12 rebounds). LeBron James (25 pts, 13 rebs) and Kyrie Irving (34 pts) carried the load for the Cavs, but they didn't get the same help as the Warriors' starters did from their supporting cast.
LeBron and Draymond got caught up at one moment, when James stepped over Green in a physical exchange. Unfortunately for "The King," his team was well on their way to a loss when he tried to assert his dominance.
The entire night was a gauge of the Warriors' toughness, but Head Coach Steve Kerr felt like they answered the bell better than in Game Three's blowout loss.
"We just competed like crazy, and it was a great response from game three where we were really embarrassed with our performance," Kerr said.
Kerr's second Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, echoed the same sentiment.
"We realized we were soft, and the whole year we responded well though. Rarely, I only think we lost back to back once, and that was a couple weeks ago (against OKC), so I'm happy about the way we were able to respond on this team," Thompson said. "We were ready to come back, and the toughest game is obviously coming up on Monday, but we'll enjoy this tonight because that was a gutsy win."
Monday night, it could all come to an end for Cleveland. LeBron's dream of bringing a trophy back to Believeland is getting haunted by the Splash Brothers, and there might not be any escaping.
One game separates Golden State from a second straight title and Cleveland from Elimination. It would move the Warriors one step closer to Michael Jordan's Bulls and Magic Johnson's Showtime Lakers in the historical frame of the game of basketball. Steph, Klay and Draymond are chasing greatness, while LeBron is trying to protect his legacy. Only one storyline gets a happy ending.
Cavs Coach Ty Lue's message to his team after the loss was simple.
"If you don't think we can win, don't get on the plane," Lue delivered in a harsh tone. "In the NBA Finals you got to lay it all on the line, and in nine days you can rest all summer."
If the Cavs want to keep playing past Monday, they better lace up their sneakers with a purpose. It's going to get loud in Oakland, and if they want to keep the blue and yellow confetti from raining down on their heads, they have to beat the reigning champs three straight times. That's quite a dragon to slay, even for "The King."
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